• hero-bg

Newsroom/Symposium Reviews

Letter from attendee

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone associated with the Utah symposium. This was my first time attending the symposium, I had register and paid two years ago but due to a business conflict was unable to attend.

Having been to a number of AAW and other regional meetings I wasn’t sure what to expect from this particular meeting. Gorst, who had encouraged me to attend only told I should be there Gorst and I are in the same woodturning club and have been friends for years. He knows I am an artist and approach woodturning from the approach of wood being a canvas to draw from and add to. Well I felt I had dropped into the right place at the right time.

This event had the feel of old friends getting together to share stories and their talent. As in many woodturning meetings information is shared by demonstrators them showing us. But I felt at this event it was more of a feeling that everyone was learning from each other. I did spend most of my time with Nick Arnull 5 sessions, Mark Baker 4 sessions John Wessel 4 sessions but also made time for Paul Fennell and Mick Hanbury. The caliper and content of all sessions were absolutely on target and Arnull, Baker and Wessel’s ability to engage the group was top notch.

If asked at our next local meeting about my experience I will have mixed emotions on one hand I would like everyone in our club to attend but on the other hand I would almost like to keep Utah my own little secret. I think the fact that the Utah symposium is large enough to draw on the talents of some very good artists but small enough to give everyone who attended the ability to meet and make new friends and not be overwhelmed by the thousands that attend meetings like AAW makes the event a great event. I know there were countless people I should thank for their hard work, not knowing who they were and not to single out any one person; I would only say thanks to everyone who helped put together a memorable event. I look forward to attending next year’s event in Utah.

Again thanks,
Joel Blazek
Bush, LA

Past Articles from the Daily Herald

May 17, 2013. Daily Herald, Candi Higley – Correspondent

Gouges, chisels, lathes and plenty of wood shavings can be found this weekend at the 34th annual Utah Woodturning Symposium. This year, 36 youth ranging in age from fifth grade through seniors in high school received scholarships to attend the three-day event at the UCCU Events Center at UVU.

“This year we have had the most youth attend than ever before,” said Susan Hendrix, the symposium organizer. “We enjoy bringing the youth here and letting them learn about woodturning. They are going to be where our future woodturners come from. If we can help them learn these skills as teenagers, then when they are done with girls and cars and start to get gray hair and more time, they can find their passion in woodturning again.”

The scholarship funds are raised through a live auction at the event. Students can then apply for the scholarship with their woodworking teachers.

Each year, the symposium brings in new woodturners and talent from around the world. This year, 23 demonstrators from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, South Africa, Utah and throughout the United States demonstrated everything from how to make a bowl or pens to how to make an elegant finial box or a mini wooden canteen.

“We get a lot of the same attendees year after year,” Hendrix said. “One of our attendees has been to the symposium 33 of the 34 years. Many people comment that they like the hometown feel of the symposium and that they came back each year to learn and see their friends.”

This year, fifth-grader Karter Oldroyd attended the symposium on a scholarship. He attended with his father, Kameron Oldroyd. Kameron is a teacher at Sunset Ridge Middle School in Jordan School District and attended not only learn but to be with his son.

“A lot of the skills we learn here we can take back to use in our technology department during our manufacturing unit,” Kameron said. “It also gives me the chance to be here with Karter, who received a scholarship and is really interested in woodturning.

Karter has been making ball and cup games and tops on a lathe at home and was excited to learn more about woodturning.

“I have always been interested in wood turning,” Karter said. “It is something that I love and I want to learn the most about it. I would like to have a job where I can do this someday. I plan to sell my tops and ball and cup games at a farmers market this summer to raise money for college.”

Kevin Ludwig, a senior at Mountain View High School, also attended the symposium on a scholarship and was excited to see what others have made.

“I have taken woods classes for three years and completed my first project when I was a sophomore,” Ludwig said. “I would love to continue to do woodturning as a hobby throughout my life. It is great to be here and see others projects and the techniques they use.”

Ludwig, along with other students, was participating in the Youth Hands-On Workshop, an area on the floor of the events center where students could practice using lathes and gauges and chisels to create a handle for a tool.

Volunteer woodturners run the workshop and give back to help the new generation learn valuable skills.

Nelson Cassinger, a woodturner from Las Vegas, has been a demonstrator in the past and last year helped with the youth workshop.

“Getting the chance to introduce these kids to woodturning is very rewarding for me,” Cassinger said. “Watching the kids and the intensity they have to learn something new and experience something exciting is great.”

Another unique part of the symposium is the Art Gallery, which showcases work from woodturners throughout the globe. This year, the gallery includes an exhibition from the Dale Nish Collection. The collection is full of woodturnings from around the world and showcases the work of Dale’s friends from the past 50 years. The Art Gallery is open to the public from 8:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 8:30 a.m. until 2:45 p.m. on Saturday.

“Every year the gallery just gets better and better,” Cassinger said. “It is endless what people’s imagination can come up with.”


May 18, 2012. Daily Herald, Debbie Balzotti – Correspondent

Dale Nish attended a woodturning symposium held back east in 1978 and decided to bring the event to this side of the Mississippi with “Symposium West ’79.”

After 19 years, Nish retired as coordinator but others have stepped in to continue the symposium’s success. The event, now named the Utah Woodturning Symposium, began at BYU but is currently held at the UCCU Center on the campus of Utah Valley University. More than 400 people are attending this year’s event, which began Thursday.

“This is the longest consecutive woodturning conference in the world,” said Kip Christensen, a member of the symposium’s board of directors and a former coordinator. “We have 14 presenters from around the world — from England, Canada and Australia as well as from the United States. They will give 100 different demonstrations which makes it difficult for those who attend to choose which ones to go to since they can only choose 11.”

Christensen talked about the renewed interest in woodturning for artists and collectors. Museum visitors are seeing more pieces in exhibits and in private collections.

“In the mid-1970s there was a renaissance in woodturning,” Christensen said. “Most people think of chair legs when you talk about creating wooden objects on a lathe, but today there are many utilitarian and artistic components.”

The Nish family continues to be involved in woodturning and has a business called Craft Supplies, which is sponsoring many of the demonstrations. According to Christensen, Craft Supplies and BYU are generously loaning lathes and other items for the symposium presentations.

This year’s event coordinator, Susan Hendrix, also a wood carver and turner, is excited for the symposium. “It’s a great opportunity for woodturners to gather, and learn and share what they are doing,” she said. “This symposium is very well respected throughout the United States and even internationally. It’s grown through the great leadership and many volunteers that we have.”

One free event open to the public is the Instant Gallery. The public is invited to view selected works from the Dale Nish Collection, which includes turnings from many of the world’s greatest woodturners — including Ray Allen, David Ellsworth, Dell Stubbs, Bonnie Klein and others. Instant Gallery participants attending the symposium are invited to display and sell their work. A short biographical sketch at each booth will give gallery visitors useful information about the turners and their work.

The symposium runs through Saturday afternoon in the UCCU Center.

Utah Woodturning Symposium

Mark Baker reports from the Utah Woodturning Symposium

The Utah Woodturning Symposium has gained a superb reputation as a quality, well-run and friendly event. This is due, I think, to Kip Christensen, Dale Nish (who started the event off) and Craft Supplies USA who have developed the event over 25 years to be more like an event for friends – and those friends are called woodturners – who share a like mind for learning, having fun and sharing experiences. So, in my mind this attitude means that the event is like a once yearly club where everyone is welcome.

At the opening ceremony Kip asks the question of the audience how many have been to every one. There are many who have so it must be good. I also like the fact that there are those that come for the first time and are immediately made to feel welcome as automatic members of the worldwide woodturning club. I think everyone involved should be justly proud that their efforts bear such fruit.

There is no trade show at this event. There is a special event the day before put on by Craft Supplies USA called Super Wednesday. Bargains galore are on offer in a special area and it is like bees to a honey pot. The hustle and bustle in there is intense for a few hours as people pore over the goodies. I partook of this and had great fun. I would have bought more were it not for the ever-restrictive airline baggage allowances.

The event runs from Thursday to Saturday and is held at the Brigham Young University. The venue is excellent, seating is tiered so you can see everything, there are also two screens relaying the close-up detail at any one time. The camera crews do a sterling job. The fact that they are turners helps, as they know what to look for when working.

There were 22 demonstrators in all from around the world, which meant that there was a diverse mix of subjects covered so there was something for everyone. I always get a lot from these seeing these techniques and hints – how that person works is always fun and sometimes challenging.

One of the parts of any symposia that always takes my breath away is the gallery. The gallery here was everything I expected and more. Someone quipped I was like a kid in a candy store.

Author: Mark Baker © Copyright 2008 Woodturning, The GMC Group LTD. All rights reserved.

    • Location

      Utah Woodturning Symposium
      P.O. Box 415
      Provo, UT 84601

      Follow us

    • Contact us